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News Release    

June 2, 2008      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Babies Sleep Safest Alone
Public Education Effort

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Commissioner of Social Services Robert Allers have announced Dutchess County has joined with the New York State Office of Children & Family Services to stop a preventable crisis: infants dying when sharing a bed with an adult.

“There have been nearly 90 babies and small children who have died in New York State since 2006 as a result of co-sleeping with a parent, sibling, or caregiver, and those only included the reported cases,” said County Executive Steinhaus.   “Our goal is to educate caregivers to save children’s lives.”

Co-sleeping is risky. If an adult or child rolls over on a baby, the baby can be hurt or even suffocated.  The danger is further increased if the parent or caregiver has been drinking,  has been using drugs, is overweight, or sleeps on a couch.  For parents who wish to keep babies close, it is recommended to the baby in a crib or bassinet near the parent’s bed.

The Office of Children and Families estimates co-sleeping is involved in approximately 20 percent of the child fatalities reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

  • Three-quarters of the children in co-sleeping incidents were newborn to three months old.
  • Adult co-sleepers involved in these incidents were most likely to be the child’s mothers, age 18 to 24 years old.
  • Nearly 40 percent of these co-sleeping incidents occurred on the weekend.

To prevent further fatalities, Dutchess County has partnered with other counties throughout New York in a statewide public education campaign to get out the message … “BABIES SLEEP SAFEST ALONE.”

Social Services Commissioner Robert Allers said: “These deaths cross cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic demographics.  Educating caregivers about the risk of co-sleeping is the key to avoiding future tragedies.”

Babies are safest when they sleep alone.   Parents and caregivers should take these steps to keep babies safe:

  • Put baby to sleep on his back to greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Make sure crib has a firm mattress that fits snugly with no space between the mattress and the side of the crib, so the baby cannot be trapped.
  • Keep baby’s crib free of pillows, bumpers, fluffy quilts and stuffed toys.   Keep blankets away from baby’s head.
  • Never put a baby to sleep on an adult bed, sofa, sheepskin, or other soft mattress – even for a nap.
  • If you don’t have a crib, put baby to sleep in a firm, enclosed space, such as a playpen or stroller, with no loose bedding or pillows.
  • Don’t let your baby get too warm.   Keep the room temperature between 65 and 70 degrees.

For more information on this education campaign, visit


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Last Updated: 6/2/2008